Ground Support Worldwide

APR 2013

The ground support industry's source for news, articles, events, product and services information.

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COVER STORY The JETPorter Softcapture can turn aircraft pushbacks and towing into a one-man operation. PHOTO: TRONAIR "cradle down" button until the cradle movement stops. The start of the downward movement, releases the upper hold-down arms. With the cradle down, the vehicle is again restricted to creep speed. The driver backs straight away without turning the steering wheel until the landing gear is cleared. ADDITIONAL FEATURES Of course, the Softcapture, no matter how innovative, just goes along for the ride so to speak. Tronair has also engineered a number of features into the electric vehicle to effciently and safely perform pushbacks and towing all day long: Direct Drive Train System: Two 10-hp 48V DC motors are directly connected in line with the brakes and torque hubs for maximum mechanical effciency. The maximum combined torque capability for break-away at the gear hub output (36:1) without programmed limits is 6,500 foot-pounds. Solid rubber traction tires mount to the opposite side of the drive hubs. Digital logic controllers are used to control the drive train. "Basically, the JETPorter's direct drive system has less moving parts that other models that use a chain drive," Kurzdorfer says. "Less moving parts means much less maintenance costs." Steering System: There's more to the direct drive system that comes into play to steer the vehicle. The motors are driven by two separate controllers. The controllers are linked together through a "proportional steering module," and the PSM delivers the throttle signal to each controller. The signal is based on foot throttle position and steering wheel position. A hydraulic rotary actuator connected to the steering axle and leaf spring suspension provides a "ffth wheel-type" steering – giving the vehicle a true zero degree turning radius, reduced tire wear, and increased traction and control on snow and ice. "You can turn on a dime," Kurzdorfer adds. "The vehicle's two rear wheels are centered in a way that you can actually rotate about the cradle. That makes it much easier to operate in tight situations." The low profle of the vehicle also helps it ft under the bodies of most large cabin aircraft for tighter hangar stacking. Overload System: The drawbar pull can be controlled by programming maximum amperage limits for a given output. Company Timeline 1971: Tronair founded as Danair, a part of the Dana Holding Corp., a worldwide supplier of axles, drive shafts and transmissions, among many other products, to the automotive, commercial and off-highway vehicle markets. Danair's frst product was a 5-ton axle jack for the Lear jet. 1973-1980: Company expands its product line to include jacks and hydraulic power units. 1980: Tronco acquires Danair and renames it Tronair. Company moves to its current headquarters in Holland, OH. 1980-1990: Tronair continues to expand its product line as well as its manufacturing facility to 90,000 sq. 8 GROUND SUPPORT WORLDWIDE • APRIL 2013 ft. from 8,000 sq. ft. Onsite processes include machining, fabrication, powder paint, two-part epoxy coatings and assembly. To serve international customers, Tronair expands internationally and begins opening offces in Thailand; China and United Kingdom. 2003: Tronair acquires Arvico. 2006: Tronair acquires JETPorter and begins re-engineering the line of electric aircraft tugs. 2012: Levine Leichtman Capital Partners, a private equity frm based in Los Angeles, partners with management to acquire Tronair. Today, Tronair continues to design, manufacture and distribute more than 1,000 different products. In addition Tronair manufactures many special items required by the aircraft OEMs for building aircraft. It operates sales/ service offces in Canada; Germany; France; Singapore and Japan in addition to those centers previously mentioned. Its engineering team consists of 11 engineers and designers with mechanical, electrical and electronic technical degrees. (In fact, Martin Kurzdorfer, vice president of sales and marketing, also holds the designation of professional engineer.) Additional staff includes A&P mechanics, certifed fuid engineers, journeyman machinists and certifed welders.

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